Imprisoned for Profit (2020)

Last year, I met John Dacey, a prominent Phoenix attorney who left his private practice to start a nonprofit. Over the years practicing law, he had come to believe that the private prison industry is a form of slavery, where some people are imprisoned for the profit of others. The plan he formed: to bring a case against for-profit prisons all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

Well the news is that, last week, John’s team filed their first lawsuit in the process, here in Arizona. The NAACP has joined them on the case.

It’s also timely because this issue affects people of color the most, and as you’ll see in the film, the link back to slavery runs via more than one thread.

I hope you find this 13-minute film interesting and useful, and will consider sharing it with your friends. I made it with ‘zero budget’ and along the way, met our small but diverse crew, who joined me pro bono on the project. It’s an official selection of the Arizona International Film Festival, but because festival season is kind of messed up this year, I’m sharing it online first.

A word about the inmate in the film: He isn’t a person of color, and he wasn’t in prison for any big, significant crime. But he’s a single sample, one of the many people who go through the system, and he’s in the film simply to answer this one question: ‘What does it feel like to know that somebody is making money off your imprisonment?’

I wish John Dacey and his team all the best and will be watching their case go through the court system. Here’s hoping that 2020 is the beginning of some real change for how we think about fairness in America!

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